ETHIOPIA: Flash flood damages houses in Dire Dawa

Monday, April 16, 2007
Several houses were damaged by flood waters in the eastern Ethiopian town of Dire Dawa, 515 km from the capital of Addis Ababa, after heavy rains pounded the area, officials said.

The Thursday morning floods swept over the Addis Ketema and Decahtu suburbs, said Binyam Fikru, public relations officer at Dire Dawa police station. There were no reports of casualties, although the flooding was quite intense.

It is the second time in less that a year that Dire Dawa, Ethiopia's second-largest town with a population of 400,000, suffers floods. In August, at least 250 people died and nearly 10,000 were forced to leave their homes – some 5,524 of whom are still living in tents in the Mariam Sefer area - when floods inundated the town.

Binyam said that the flood hit the city around 1:30 am [local time] and continued to sweep over it for three hours. "Some policemen fired guns and fire fighters used their alarm to wake up the residents," he said.

Many of those who woke up left their homes and spent the night on safe ground. However, a 100m bank in Decahtu burst while other barriers in Addis Ketema were also damaged.

According to the Ethiopian Meteorological Agency, heavy rainfall is expected to fall in the area over the next 10 days.

Binyam said that the police had begun to set up radio communications in Egeneni village, where the water converges from four different sources.

A meeting of top government and local administration officials was held on Thursday to discuss strategies to minimise possible damages, should flood waters hit the area.

Abraham Sahilu, head of the Disaster Prevention and Food Security Office in Dire Dawa, said a committee was formed and that a wall is now being constructed to block water from the main river.

After the 2006 floods, the Dire Dawa interim administration allocated funds to build four banks in the Decahtu, Ashwa, and Hafcat areas of the town. "Residents of Decahtu and Kebele are working on putting sand bags on the river bank," Sahilu told IRIN.
Author: IRIN
Source: IRIN
See Also